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From MySpace to Tesla Forever More... an Interview with Guitarist Dave Rude

By Krishta Abruzzini, Pacific Northwest Writer
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 @ 8:45 AM

"I got the Five Man Acoustical Jam record when I was twelve. Thatís when it came out and it was a big hit. I used to listen to it on my way to school on my walkman in the seventh grade."

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Every writer has a favorite article or interview theyíve done through the years. The one that stands out most for me was an interview I did back in 2001 with then guitarist Tommy Skeoch of Tesla. (Click here)

Never before or since have I been asked by a publicist to be given a copy of my article prior to publishing so that it may be edited to protect the band and family members therein. I did submit the article for editing, and surprisingly, a lot of it was deemed acceptable, although some of it was asked to be omitted. Perhaps overwhelmed by road-worn demons or the dichotomy of balancing a family with being a rock star, Tommy Skeoch has ultimately chosen family lifeÖprobably a good choice in his situation.

Tesla has moved on as well, bringing a younger, less road tattered countenance to the group. Found on Myspace by Frank Hannon (yes, it does happen), guitarist Dave Rude, (lucky bastard), has become a permanent member of Tesla. It canít hurt that Dave was amongst the thousands of other bands trying to get recognition and gigs with his own band of his namesake www.myspace.com/daverudeband, now to be playing in an internationally renowned touring act such as Tesla (really lucky bastard).

With a lot of reason to have an inflated ego, Dave remains grounded and obviously grateful. I chatted with Dave recently and found him to be a truly talented young man with intentions of bringing a style of his own to Tesla, while still remaining faithful to his own band and family.

KNAC.COM: When I heard Iíd be interviewing the ďnew guyĒ from Tesla, I contacted my editor and asked him if I should hold out for one of the original members. His comment was, ďNo way, Rude will give us a different perspective on things.Ē

RUDE: (Laughs)

KNAC.COM: Frank Hannon found you on Myspace with your band (The Dave Rude Band). Youíre replacing Tommy Skoetch? Did you feel like you had big shoes to fill?

RUDE: Yeah, because Tommy was great and I was a big fan of the band.

KNAC.COM: What has that done for your band?

RUDE: Itís helped us a lot, because I still [am working my own band] all the time. Tesla usually goes out for a month and then takes a month off roughly, so we just continue that cycle. So whenever Iím at home I continue to work on my band. Itís definitely brought us a lot more fans and notoriety. A lot more people have gotten into our songs and come out to the gigs.

KNAC.COM: What a hell of a break for you!

RUDE: (laughing) Totally.

KNAC.COM: So youíre just sitting and home and you get this message from Frank asking you to play? Out of all the guitarists he could have chosen, he chooses you off of Myspace no less!

RUDE: Itís exciting.

KNAC.COM: Will Teslaís label (Tesla Electric Company Recordings) now produce your band?

RUDE: We might do something like that. Right now weíre just doing our own thing. I kind of like to keep the two things separate so thereís never any conflict. Weíve talked about it. Right now weíre just doing some demos.

KNAC.COM: The polarity of balancing a well established band and dealing with what I would assume a lot of other bands endure, struggling for recognition, has got to be a little weird sometimes. The guys in your personal band have got to be worshiping you right now.

RUDE: (laughs) Itís cool. Theyíre all smart and understand. Itís a little weird for us, because Iíll be gone for a month or so, which can be an obstacle, but aside from that, theyíre all excited because it helps us so much. Itís definitely a different world when Iím playing shows with my band and then with Tesla. But itís still fun. It doesnít really bother me and I get into a different headspace with each band. But yeah, with my band, weíre just like any other band. We bring our own gear to the show and set it up. Youíll find us all behind the t-shirt counter. With Tesla, I have a roadie and tech, a tour bus and all that.

KNAC.COM: You mean, you canít demand that out of your other band?

RUDE: (laughing) Not yet.

KNAC.COM: I assume the guys keep you pretty grounded in your own band?

RUDE: You know, itís like where I was before all this happened. Itís been helpful because itís given me a lot of perspective on how the business works and all that, aside from all the fun stuff. When Iím back home, Iím just trying to get our career established.

KNAC.COM: They certainly shouldnít have a problem with you having your name as the moniker for the band now, right?

RUDE: (Laughing) I know. It started out as a solo project and it ended up becoming a band.

KNAC.COM: So you went out with Frankís band before playing with Tesla?

RUDE: Yeah. He emailed me and said, ĎItís Frank from Tesla, Iím looking for a guitar player to do a two week project with my solo band. Do you wanna come jam next Friday and see how it works out?í So I did. I went up to Sacramento and sat in with him at a club gig he was doing, we did some cover songs and it went well. And I said Iíd definitely be down to go do the tour with his band, but he told me that night that they were actually looking for somebody to replace Tommy. He did need a guitarist for his solo project, but the greater purpose for that was to train somebody to be in Tesla for the summer tour. It was a surprise.

KNAC.COM: Do you pinch yourself everyday?

RUDE: Yeah, itís pretty crazy.

KNAC.COM: Youíre 30 now; a baby by comparison to the Tesla boys. How old were you when you first started listening to these guys?

RUDE: I got the Five Man Acoustical Jam record when I was twelve. Thatís when it came out and it was a big hit. I used to listen to it on my way to school on my walkman in the seventh grade.

KNAC.COM: Were your parents into them?

RUDE: My parents werenít into it, but they would listen to whatever I had and let me play it in the car or wherever. My mom listened to Tesla a bunch because she drove me everywhere.

KNAC.COM: Tommy once told me that he had people coming out to the show introducing the band to their daughter ďTesla.Ē Have you met any on the road yet?

RUDE: Iíve met quite a few Teslaís!

KNAC.COM: Sheís got to be about your age?

RUDE: All the Teslaís are about the same. Sometimes a little younger, sometimes a little older. Dogs named Tesla too. Itís really cool. Itís flattering to the band that someone would name their child after them. Iíve always thought it was a really pretty girls name anyway.

KNAC.COM: The Tesla fans have always been really supportive of the band. Tesla fortunately, and unfortunately, kind of fell into an era of the bands that were coming out in the 80s, but they always managed to kind of keep the band separated. Mainly I think because they were heavier and more in your face rock. Thereís a pretty big insurgence of the 80s bands coming back around now. Do you feel like the band is still thrown into that 80s stereotype of band or is there still a separation?

RUDE: I think we definitely feel separated. [The original guys] from Tesla never identified with that. They just happened to come out in the 80s, so people referred to them as such. By in large the sound of all the older Tesla stuff was just kind of classic rock. I mean it had a little bit of 80s production in it, but other than that, it could have come out in the 70s or even the 90s. It was just Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, bluesy classic rock. Unfortunately, they got thrown into that. I think even at the time, the guys never really gave into that. They never changed their look or their sound. Theyíre one of the few bands that came out of that alright. Theyíre still respected. And now weíre making new records and taking the band in a newer direction. It still sounds like Tesla, but itís definitely updated. Weíre not trying to rehash the old stuff; itís a real viable band.

KNAC.COM: I listened to your band on Myspace and on your CD. It has a definitive different style than that of Tesla. Is Teslaís music one that youíre loving to play out with these guys, or would you prefer to play the music of your own band?

RUDE: I love playing both. Luckily I grew up as a fan of Tesla and I already knew the music. I had the records and Iíd go see them live, so I already loved the songs. When we play older songs, itís different for me. I mean for me itís like playing a cover song. But at the same time itís playing a cover song I really love. When weíre up there playing, it almost feels like I wrote them. I love the songs and the guys are so cool and we have so much fun playing them, I never feel like, ĎOh, we gotta play that song again.í I really love playing the new songs though, because on the new album ĎForever Moreí we wrote that together. I wrote a lot of the stuff on that.

KNAC.COM: You have a lot of freedom of musical expression in the band?

RUDE: Oh yeah. Theyíre very encouraging. They want me to contribute stuff. We really write the songs all together with us and the producer.

KNAC.COM: On the ĎReal to Reelí recording I hear you got to play with Stevie Ray Vaughnís guitar.

RUDE: Yeah! I got to play this 1952 Fender Esquire, which is like the Telecaster before it was called a Telecaster, which is already a special rare guitar. The guy who owned the studio had bought it from a guy who had bought it from Jimmy Vaughn, and it had a whole lineage. It had been Stevie Rayís guitar, and he used it on ĎIn Stepí or ĎCouldnít stand the Weather,í I canít remember, but he is my favorite guitar player. So it was a huge thing for me to be able to play that. I took it to my room and I slept with it every night. I think I got like a hundred pictures with it, too. Every angle. It was great.

KNAC.COM: You need to buy it from that guy.

RUDE: I wish. One day, I will. It did make it on the record as well. It has a really great sound.

KNAC.COM: On ĎReal to Reelí you recorded it with analog equipment. Do you prefer the modern technology of pro-tools and the likes of all the computer wizardry, or the raw barebones approach to recording?

RUDE: I like them both. Theyíre just two different animals. What was so cool about ĎReal to Reelí is that we just sort of played it live in the studio. Itís almost like a live album. There are very few overdubs on the record. I do like the sound of tape. There is a little difference, though, that I think you can hear. It was different also because we werenít writing the songs. Itís a lot easier to write new songs in the studio with digital recording, pro-tools and everything because you can change arrangements on the songs. Even if you donít use it, you can be like, ĎWhat would it sound like if we made the chorus three times as long there?í instead of re-learning it and recording it and get a good take, you can just move it around on the computer and thirty seconds later, listen to it. I also like the modern sound of stuff when itís all crisp and clean. That has its own charm. So, I really like both.

KNAC.COM: Well definitely on the tape you have to prove your musicianship, you know? Not much knob twisting can help with that if you canít deliver.

RUDE: (laughs) Thereís definitely the downside of digital recording is that people get lazy. And even if you donít fix it, you can do like a hundred takes of just like two notes. Where if it was on tape, it would take too long and the tape would start to deteriorate.

KNAC.COM: Tell me about the new album, ĎForever Moreí.

RUDE: I feel like itís sort of a continuation of the last original record, which was before I joined the band. Itís similar in the sense that it takes the classic Tesla sound and sort of updates it. It sounds contemporary, like it fits on the radio. It doesnít sound dated. It competes with all the newer hard rock bands, but it doesnít lose the Tesla sound. Itís not like one of those things where a classic band will try to completely change their sound and be whateverís popular. That never works. Thatís not what we did. Weíre just keeping up with the times. If we made another ĎMechanical Resonanceí it just wouldnít be very good. Thatís not where anyone in the bandís headís at where songwritingís concerned.

KNAC.COM: So, you donít think youíll do an album with Timbaland?

RUDE: (laughing) Probably not. Weíre just gonna do the new rock-and-roll. We like it. Itís natural for us.

KNAC.COM: How have the shows been?

RUDE: The shows have been great. Like I said, since this new record has come out, we get to do all the new songs. Itís really exciting to play them. The fans are really liking the new stuff. With a new album and a band thatís had such a long career, the fans sometimes donít want to hear the new stuff. Iíve been in the crowd many times before. But this is one of the exceptionsÖand itís not just because Iím in the band. I can really tell. The whole crowd is into it. Thereís good reaction and theyíre singing along.

KNAC.COM: And this is your baby, so itís got to feel great. Itís your contribution. Whatís the biggest venue youíve played so far?

RUDE: We did a festival in Wisconsin with like, twenty-thousand with Motley Crue and in Spain with like, thirty-thousand. It was really cool.

KNAC.COM: Man, how do you go from that and play the small venues with your band? Setting up your own gear no less?

RUDE: To me, aside from the crowd, I feel the same way as if itís a big crowd or if itís small. I mean, with a really big crowd like that, Iíll get more adrenaline, but Iíve always given my all, even if there were only ten people there. Thatís the attitude Iíve always had. Playing like that even in a small club makes it more fun and makes you more into it. When I first got up to a large crowd with Tesla, not in an arrogant sense, but other than it being really cool looking out at all the people, I had the same feeling I had when I played in small clubs.

KNAC.COM: Well, one thing about Tesla, I think theyíve always been more of a group of musicians and not a group of personalities. That had to make it easier for you to slip right in there and be able to play. Theyíre known and respected for their musicianship.

RUDE: Exactly.

KNAC.COM: Who have you met in the industry that was a ďpinch-meĒ moment for you?

RUDE: We did a festival in Holland with Aerosmith. I didnít get to actually meet Steven Tyler or Joe Perry, although Joe walked by me and said, ĎHi.í I was about to fall over. He walked right by me and nodded and said something like, ĎHey, whatís up man?í Steven Tyler was hanging out just a few feet in front of me talking to some people. I was just like, ĎWow!í I did get to meet Paul Stanley when we did a European festival. He was really, really nice.

KNAC.COM: Isnít it funny that the bigger the band, the less the ego?

RUDE: Thatís what Iíve always heard, and itís totally true.

KNAC.COM: Some of the sweetest people Iíve met in this industry have been the biggest rock stars. Iíve met a lot of the ďbaby bandsĒ that thought they were making it big that seemed to have the most incredible egos. You obviously are going to go far. In closing, in the past, Tesla has offered backstage passes for the fans to purchase. Are they still doing this?

RUDE: Yeah. There are VIP packages, where you get to come to soundcheck in the afternoon. Then after weíre done, we come out and hang out with everybody. You get a bag with a bunch of cool merch in it with a shirt, cd, dvds, and a VIP pass.

KNAC.COM: A lot of people laugh at that, but I think itís brilliant marketing. It makes you guys more touchable to the fans who have been so faithful. Personally, Iíd much rather have the fans given that access than the local label geek.

RUDE: Totally. Itís a lot of fun. There are a lot of bands that do it, but you donít actually get to meet the band. You might get to watch soundcheck, but itís the roadies doing it. People really enjoy it. Iím glad we do it.

Tesla tour dates:

  • Tue 1/27/2009 R5 Records Sacramento CA
  • Wed 1/28/2009 The Catalyst Santa Cruz CA
  • Fri 1/30/2009 Memorial Auditorium Sacramento CA
  • Sat 1/31/2009 Grand Sierra Resort and Casino Reno NV
  • Tue 2/3/2009 Club 101 El Paso TX
  • Wed 2/4/2009 Midnight Rodeo Amarillo TX
  • Fri 2/6/2009 La Zona Rosa Austin TX
  • Sat 2/7/2009 House of Blues Dallas TX
  • Sun 2/8/2009 House of Blues Houston TX
  • Tue 2/10/2009 Scout Bar Beaumont TX
  • Wed 2/11/2009 Scout Bar San Antonio TX
  • Fri 2/13/2009 Horseshoe Casino Ė Riverdome Bossier City LA
  • Sat 2/14/2009 Wild West Lubbock TX
  • Mon 2/16/2009 House of Blues New Orleans LA
  • Tue 2/17/2009 Center Stage Theatre Atlanta GA
  • Fri 2/20/2009 Carolina Theatre Greensboro NC
  • Sat 2/21/2009 House of Blues Myrtle Beach SC
  • Sun 2/22/2009 House of Blues Orlando FL
  • Tue 2/24/2009 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh NC
  • Wed 2/25/2009 Amos' Southend Charlotte NC
  • Fri 2/27/2009 Bijou Theatre Knoxville TN
  • Sat 2/28/2009 Orange Peel Asheville NC
For official band info and news, please visit: www.teslatheband.com
Info on the Dave Rude Band, www.myspace.com/daverudeband

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